Current Status Of Massachusetts Land-Based Casino Projects

Wynn And MGM Casinos Move Forward While Tribal Project Remains In Limbo In Massachusetts

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After several years of planning, voter referendums, regulatory approvals, setbacks, and the inevitable red tape, Massachusetts’ two commercial “destination” casinos are finally beginning to take shape.

Wynn Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield will soon join the state’s lone slot parlor racino, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in southeastern Massachusetts, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is waiting for a final ruling from the federal government before resuming construction on First Light Casino in Taunton, Massachusetts.

In this column I’ll take a look at the latest developments from all three Massachusetts casino projects.

MGM Springfield

MGM looks to western Massachusetts

Springfield is located in western Massachusetts, and is the state’s third-largest city, with a population of just over 150,000.

In addition to a strong local population, Springfield, Massachusetts is a crossroads of sorts, and will likely draw players from all across the region.

Not far from the Connecticut border (about a 45-minute drive from Hartford), MGM Springfield’s location creates a choke point, effectively cutting off Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun from anyone traveling from the north or west.

MGM Springfield a whole lot more than a casino

MGM received a license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in June 2014, and is on track to open in September 2018.

When all is said and done, the casino will cost roughly $1 billion and will total over 750,000 square feet, including some 126,000 square feet of dedicated gaming space that will house 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games.

The remainder of the property will contain:

  • A 250 room four star hotel
  • A 3,375 space attached parking garage
  • Eight restaurants, dining options, and bars
  • 26,000 square feet of retail space
  • Numerous entertainment options including a bowling alley and cinema

Finally, because of the location (the casino’s footprint encompasses several existing city blocks in the city of Springfield), the MGM Springfield is incorporating several historic buildings into its design. These will be turned into 54 residential units.

Wynn Boston Harbor

For Wynn, it’s all about location, location, location

The Wynn Boston Harbor Casino will be located just outside of Boston proper in the city of Everett.

The casino is a big deal, both in terms of scope (the project is estimated to cost $2.1 billion) and expectations.

The reason Steve Wynn confidently invested over $2 billion in a casino in Massachusetts is because of its location on the outskirts of one of the most-visited cities in the US.

Toss in a world-class casino with a five-star hotel and a trip to Boston becomes even more appealing.

The site in Everett is a 10 minute ride from Logan International Airport, which along with Boston’s rich history, cuisine, shopping, and arts and entertainment options, will likely make Wynn Boston Harbor a destination for visitors from around the globe.

The largest single-phase project in Massachusetts history

As grand as the MGM project is, it pales in comparison to the Wynn Boston Harbor.

Wynn Boston Harbor was first approved by the MGC in September 2014. But due to its size, and the numerous delays and setbacks mentioned earlier, the casino isn’t expected to open until June 2019.

Wynn Boston Harbor’s casino will take up nearly 200,000 square feet. It will feature 2,500 slot machines and nearly 150 table games, along with a 90-plus table poker room.

Casino aside, it will be the hotel and amenities that separate the Wynn from other East Coast casino properties.

The Wynn Boston Harbor complex will include all the bells and whistles Wynn properties are famous for, including:

  • A five-star hotel with 671 rooms
  • 56,602 square feet of retail space
  • Ten restaurants, dining options, and bars
  • A 2,931 attached, underground parking garage on site and another 800 parking spots offsite
  • Full service spa and gym
  • A multi-use convention space
  • Outdoor space
  • An indoor garden

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Wampanoag tribe still in the mix

Massachusetts’ casino law allows for up to three casino licenses to be issued by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but so far only two have been handed out.

The reason the third license is being kept in the MGC’s back pocket has to do with a proposed tribal casino in Taunton, First Light Casino.

The Taunton casino was proposed by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and with the project originally given the go-ahead, the MGC withheld the third commercial casino license.

But, the tribe ran into a legal snag when a court ruled in favor of a Taunton resident who filed suit to stop the casino from being constructed. In its ruling, the court found the federal government needed to reexamine its decision to put the tribe’s land into trust.

Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell recently sat for an interview with local news to discuss where the tribe’s casino project stands.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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